The upcoming West Point graduation ceremony is set to be a landmark event as it marks a significant milestone. It will be the first time in history that a woman delivers the commencement speech to the newly commissioned officers. However, there are mixed reactions among the cadets, as some of them are unhappy with the choice of Vice President Kamala Harris as the speaker.
The graduation day for the Class of 2023 at the US Military Academy is scheduled for May 27, where they will officially graduate, receive their commissions, and transition into officers in the US Army. One of the significant moments of the ceremony is the commencement speech, traditionally delivered by a prominent speaker.
🇺🇸The White House announced today that Vice President of the United States of America Kamala Harris will serve as commencement speaker at the USMA’s Class of 2023 graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 27. For official press release: https://t.co/l7lXTDzk11 #vp pic.twitter.com/eXzpzPQbqe— U.S. Military Academy at West Point (@WestPoint_USMA) May 10, 2023
In the past, vice presidents have often been selected for this honor, with Vice President Harris delivering the commencement speech at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, last year. This year, President Biden will be addressing the graduates at the Air Force Academy, while Vice President Harris will be delivering her speech to the West Point graduates.
The announcement of Vice President Harris as the distinguished guest at the West Point graduation ceremony garnered a range of reactions among the cadets. One cadet expressed excitement on social media, describing the news as “amazing” and expressing anticipation for witnessing a historic moment where the first woman vice president would also be the first woman to deliver the commencement speech at the Academy.
However, another cadet appeared less enthusiastic, sarcastically remarking, “Yay! The most unpopular VP in history is gonna come speak to us at graduation.” In contrast, the staff at West Point adopted a more positive stance, with the Academy’s Superintendent, Lt Gen Steven W Gilland, expressing eagerness for Vice President Harris to deliver her inspiring remarks.
While the majority of US Army officers typically undergo a 12-week program at the Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, Georgia, or obtain their commissions through an ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program, the US Military Academy offers a more prestigious path to commissioning. Cadets at the Academy engage in four years of intensive study, pursuing a bachelor’s degree while simultaneously receiving military training.
With around 45 academic majors to choose from, the Academy, situated in West Point, New York, has been admitting both male and female students since 1976. Remarkably, despite its establishment in 1802, a woman has never delivered the commencement speech to a graduating class—until now. This is about to change, marking a significant milestone in the Academy’s history.